Coming up on ten months of marriage, I am still discovering new reasons why marriage is amazing. Soon after our wedding, my wife and I decided that we wanted to make an effort to eat better and become more fit. We both purchased FitBit Zip exercise trackers, started counting our calories with MyFitnessPal, and started exercising regularly.
Where does marriage come into play?
As a married couple, we are committed to being our best and always supporting each other. We are finding ways that we are complementary all the time, including with our push to become more fit. My wife is always the one to encourage healthy eating choices (I love my desserts, especially chocolate, a bit too much). I am the one that motivates us to get out the door and exercise. It is amazing to see how strengths in one partner can correct for weakness in the other.
How has it been going?
We’ve both been doing well, loosing weight gradually and keeping up with regular exercise. This past week our streak became derailed with some unhealthy eating choices and the inevitable weight gain. This morning, realizing we were unhappy with our recent performance, we discussed what we could do to get back on track.
With our success, we had started getting lax with counting calories. Underlying all diets is the basic idea that you loose weight when you eat less calories than you burn. Without a good idea of how many calories you ate and how many were expended during the day, it is easy to start moving back to your old habits. This was our main issue.
How are we going to fix it?
Be strict about counting calories again (MyFitnessPal for food and FitBit to track activity)
Make sure we eat a well-rounded diet (we signed up for a CSA for the summer)
Provide each other with support for eating well and exercising
Now that the weather is good, get outside more
With all these changes, we should hopefully be back on track soon!
The Dark Sky Company released another great iOS app today:
Forecast Lines shows you the forecast spread for each field (temperature, precipitation intensity, pressure, etc.), overlaid with our best guess of what will actually occur. It’s a simple idea, but a powerful one: at a glance, you can see what will happen over the course of the next week, and where we are most–and least–confident in our predictions.
If you haven’t already checked them out, I also highly recommend their other apps; Dark Sky and Forecast.
Not even during Twitter’s early days have we seen such a breadth of high quality apps, ranging in functionality from clients that replicate the web experience, to others that extend the functionality of the Messages API. With that in mind, at this point, I have seen ADN grow into something more than just a nerds versions of Twitter.
I agree with Alex 100%. App.net (ADN) is the place to be for great conversation, innovative apps, and to not be treated as the product.
After reading this article, I had some questions and a counterargument.
Everybody knows this—but somehow the average U.S. household is carrying around over $7,000 in credit card debt. That average includes all the households with no credit card debt.
When I went to check up on this statistic, I found an AP report from February with an average of $5,122 per borrower. I’d be interested to find out what the average debt per borrower with debt would be as well as the average length of time the debt was held.
About 35% of credit card users do that. The rest get seriously ripped off. So if you know you’re in that 35%—no worries. But if you’re not sure whether you’re in that 35%, the odds are against you.
Where did this 35% figure come from? According to a US News and World Report article, Bankrate.com. Again, I would be interested to see some more detailed statistics on this number.
The author goes on to recommend sticking to a debit card. While this is a sure way to not end up in the 65% of people paying credit card interest, there are benefits to using a credit card including the extra protection over using a debt card. If someone gets a hold of your debit card number and makes fraudulent purchases, you are out the money until your bank investigates and returns your money. With a credit card, the credit card company is out the money, so they have an incentive to resolve the fraud as quickly as possible. Another benefit is your credit score. If you’ve never demonstrated that you can handle credit responsibly through a credit card or student loan, you will find yourself without a loan or with a high interest rate when you go to take out a loan for a car or a house.
In my opinion, credit cards are a great financial tool when used responsibly. If you treat them like a debit card and only spend money you have, you won’t have any problems.
I use nvALT and Simplenote for my plain text notes. nvALT runs on my desktop, stores my notes as plain text files in Dropbox, and syncs with Simplenote, my preferred iOS plain text solution. I have my nvALT hotkey set to ⌥ + Space, allowing quick access to my notes anywhere in OS X. On iOS, I keep Simplenote in the dock. While tagging is an option, search in both apps works well, so I don’t use any tags.
Anything that is suitable for plain text gets stored in nvALT/Simplenote rather than Evernote. For me, the speed and simplicity of plain text is important. I have notes with everything from lists, frequent flyer numbers, and keyboard shortcuts I commonly forget.
My main use for Evernote is my “paperless file cabinet”. Storing PDF scans of any paper documents I need to keep in Evernote allows me to quickly search not only the name of the document, but the OCRed content as well, making it easy to find what I’m looking for.1 I also store magazine pages from my iPad, photos of handwritten notes2, MS Office/iWork documents I need for reference3, and archives of plain text notes I no longer need.
As for tags, I use them in Evernote for ease of finding documents. Since the default date for a note is the date of last modification, I want to be able to search through my paperless file cabinet by the date on the document. Rather than depending on OCR for that, I have a tag for each year and month. I use a few other tags to classify documents, but most of my organization comes from Notebooks and Stacks (groups of notebooks).
Note: If you have sensitive documents in Evernote that you don’t want stored and indexed in the cloud, you can create a local notebook. The downside to this is that you won’t have the ability to search within the document.4
Storing all my notes in the cloud gives me easy access to them from anywhere. If you are interested in learning more about Evernote and how to make it work the best way possible for you, I highly recommend reading Evernote Essentials. For nvALT, Macdrifter has some great tips.
PDF OCR is only available if you have Evernote Premium. ↩
Evernote OCR only recognizes handwriting in images. Image OCR is available to everyone. ↩
Evernote recently added the ability to search within attached MS Office and iWork documents if you are a Premium subscriber. ↩
If you decide this is a route you want to go but still want to have the search capability, PDFPen does a great job with OCR. If you save OCR to your PDF before you import it into Evernote, you can search the text of a document while still keeping it off the cloud. ↩
T-Mobile shook up the industry last week by announcing that it was dropping contracts and phone subsidies. Typically, when you purchase a phone through a carrier, you pay a small fee upfront and sign a two-year contract that helps cover the carrier’s phone subsidy. It initially seems like a good deal, however, if you keep your phone for more than two years, you continue to pay back the subsidy even after the carrier recouped the cost of the phone.
For example, on Verizon, the 16GB iPhone 5 costs $200 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile charges $99 upfront, and then 24 monthly payments of $20. After the payments are done, you own an unlocked iPhone 5. With this model, T-Mobile’s plans are also cheaper. A 2GB, unlimited talk, text, and data (with mobile hot spot) plan is $60/month as compared to Verizon’s $100/month. T-Mobile doesn’t even charge data overage fees (they just slow you down to 2G speeds). The only caveat here is T-Mobile doesn’t have the coverage of the other large carriers.
“I’m happy when I see something different tried,” McAdam told reporters on the sidelines of an event to raise awareness for Verizon’s “Powerful Answers” initiative today. “We can react quickly to consumers’ shifting needs.”
Hopefully this will start some competition in the cellular industry and help bring down the prices for everyone.
If you are looking for a great way to make backups of your Linux server, look no further than rdiff-backup.
rdiff-backup backs up one directory to another, possibly over a network. The target directory ends up a copy of the source directory, but extra reverse diffs are stored in a special subdirectory of that target directory, so you can still recover files lost some time ago. The idea is to combine the best features of a mirror and an incremental backup. rdiff-backup also preserves subdirectories, hard links, dev files, permissions, uid/gid ownership, modification times, extended attributes, acls, and resource forks. Also, rdiff-backup can operate in a bandwidth efficient manner over a pipe, like rsync.
The Dark Sky Company (creators of Dark Sky) just announced the launch of Forecast, a new global weather service. As a beta tester, I can say I am very impressed.
While Forecast is a web app, they’ve managed to make it act like an app on iOS. When you visit the site in Safari, it prompts you to add it to your Home Screen.
The main screen displays the temperature, current conditions, and the forecast for the next hour and next 24 hours.
Differing from Dark Sky, Forecast also provides a 7-day forecast with hourly details.
The map portion of Forecast is the killer feature. Not only can you see the same fluid radar as used in Dark Sky, but you can play the animation days in the past and future. While Dark Sky is limited to the US, Forecast displays global radar.
If you want some more detail, Local and Regional views are also available.
The last (and still experimental feature available only on your desktop browser) is Time Machine, which allows you to see what the weather was like at any date in the past or future.
Forecast gives you a window into the world of Dark Sky for free and is accessible through any desktop browser. If you like Forecast and have an iOS device, I highly recommend you check out Dark Sky (review) as well. Between Forecast and Dark Sky, I no longer use any other iOS weather apps.
Just today Apple announced support for two-step verification for Apple IDs. Two-step verification can be set up by logging into the Apple ID website and going to the security tab. Set it up today so you don’t end up like Wired writer Mat Honan.
Since the announcement, many have advocated switching over to Feedly, Fever, or the newcomers NewsBlur and Feedbin. While they all are capable of replacing Google Reader, many new projects have been announced.
Feed Wrangler is a new project that was already in development by David Smith before the announcement. While there isn’t much info about it out, it is something to watch.
NetNewsWire, on the other hand, is an established RSS reader purchased by Black Pixel two years ago. They announced today that they are working on a new version that will include a syncing solution (currently the app syncs with Google Reader).
With all of the announcements of new things to come, I plan to give RSS a break while the field develops over the next few months. Why waste time and money on one of the current solutions if something better is on the horizon? I have a feeling that we will see some serious innovations now that Google Reader is out of the picture.
Last night I listened to a few episodes of one of my favorite NPR shows, Planet Money. Last Tuesday they discussed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and how the news went crazy over the “record highs” it hit for 10 days in a row. If you adjust for inflation, the Dow is nowhere near past highs. Mind-bogglingly, stock indices are one of the few economic indicators that aren’t adjusted for inflation.
If you aren’t familiar with the Dow, it is a price-weighted stock index that consists of 30 large (but not the largest) US companies. As discussed on the show, even though there are better indices such as the S&P 500 and Russell 2000, history is the only reason the Dow is always in the spotlight.
If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May through the middle of July. And if you check the times for civil twilight, which is when it’s bright enough to see without artificial light, you’ll find that that starts half an hour earlier.
After reading Dr. Drang’s article on DST, I am now a convert. I love evening walks, and borrowing some morning light for a few weeks is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
My choice to move to Arq Backup was fueled by the fact that while Crashplan+ Family Unlimited costs $149.99/year, Amazon offers storage on S3 for $0.130 per GB/month and on Glacier for $0.01 per GB/month. With the ~100 GB (inclusive of incremental backups) that I want backed up in the cloud, it will only cost me about $19.20/year (~95% of my data on Glacier) to store my backups with Amazon. Adding in the few dollars it will cost me in data transfer, PUT, and GET request charges from S3/Glacier, my yearly cost certainly won’t exceed $25-30. I justify storing most of my data in Glacier because I make regular backups of my home directory to my NAS using Carbon Copy Cloner. Every few months, I also make a full clone to an external drive. The data I backup to S3 is whatever I keep in Dropbox — any critical files and files I am currently working on.
What’s the catch? Amazon Glacier charges you a retrieval fee of $0.01/GB if you need to retrieve more than 5% of your average monthly storage, Also, if you delete data within 90 days of upload, you are charged a prorated $0.03/GB early deletion fee.
Within Arq, a great feature is the ability to limit your storage on S3 by either a monthly dollar or GB amount. When you hit your max, Arq automatically prunes the oldest incremental backups (leaving at least one for each backup folder). While many people complain about the lack of this feature for Glacier, it makes sense that it is not included due to the early deletion fee. After a great conversation on ADN, I learned that many were having trouble manually deleting their Arq Glacier backups. Since it looked like the feature was there, I decided to contact the developer to get the question answered.
If you remove a folder from Arq that’s being backed up to Glacier, Arq puts the folder in its “trash”.
If you then open Arq’s trash, select that folder, and click “Delete Permanently”, Arq will delete all the Glacier archives and attempt to delete the Glacier vault. The vault delete will fail because Amazon has to update its “inventory”, which it does once/day. The next day, browse under “Other Backup Sets” in Arq, find that vault, select it and click “Delete” to delete it.
It seems that the confusion stems from the fact that Amazon only inventories Glacier vaults once a day. Once you delete the backup folder from Arq, it gets disconnected from your Arq set and once the inventory is updated (sometime within the next day), you can then delete the backup on Glacier.
An incredible story about the shoe shiner at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh who has, over 32 years, donated $200,000 (all of his tips) to the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. No child should go without medical care because their parents can’t afford it.
I use Gmail to filter and process common emails such as receipts or newsletters, but otherwise my email lives in one of two places:
In my inbox, and
In an archive folder.
I don’t tag emails, flag emails, or colour code emails. I read them, I respond to them, and I archive them. Weeks later, when I need to reference an email, I search for it.
Other than using iCloud email and Mail, my email process is pretty much the same as Ben’s. If it’s a message that needs action, I either leave it in my inbox (if it’s something for later that day) or send it to OmniFocus using Mail Drop. If it’s an email I want to keep for reference, I simply archive it. Other mail gets deleted.
I’ve started using MailTags to keep track of messages from certain projects, coupons, etc., but I mainly just utilize search to find what I’m looking for. What’s the point of folders if you are just going to search anyways? To me, folders seem like a leftover from the past when search wasn’t as fast or accurate.
While these cans are significantly more expensive than typical trash cans, they are better by a mile. Replacing our open plastic IKEA bathroom trash can, the small bathroom can is great because it has a foot pedal to open the cover while still being small enough for the bathroom. The large kitchen can replaces our cheap can with a broken lid. With some extra features like a sturdy foot pedal, non-slamming lid, and the ability to prop the lid open with a simple push, this can is significantly better than what we had before.
While it may seem like a simple thing, upgrading the trash cans in your life can make a huge difference in your daily life.
Note: While simplehuman does make special liners that are designed for its cans, we’ve found that standard garbage bags can work as well.
I don’t remember where I first heard it, but reading about Kevin Russ on GOOD this morning reminded me. “Don’t let the tools stop you.”
If you are determined to do something but don’t have the “appropriate” tools, don’t let that stop you! So many people feel that without the latest and greatest digital SLR, video camera, text editor — the list goes on, they can’t do what they want. This is just an excuse for not taking a risk with something new. If you want to do something, you can find a way with the tools you have at hand.
Kevin is a great example — he is an amazing nature and wildlife photographer and only shoots with his iPhone.